The Oregon State Park system, which has been closed since March 23 due to COVID-19 health concerns, will remain closed until at least May 25, according to officials.
Oregon State Parks initially said the closure would remain in effect through May 8.
As of Wednesday, April 29, there is no date for opening the day-use areas at any state park. State park camping and day-use reservations have been canceled from May 8 through and including May 25.
No daytime or overnight visitors are permitted at any state park. This does not affect the ocean shore.
According to the Oregon State Parks website, information about the status of future reservations will be shared before May 25, but more cancellations are likely.
Oregon State Parks closures include:
• Campgrounds and restrooms.
• Day-use areas, restrooms, and all recreation facilities within a park, including but not limited to hiking trails, boat launches, disc golf courses and playgrounds.
• All ocean shore/beach access points managed by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. The ocean shore remains open, except for shores in front of the city of Seaside, but may be closed if people don't maintain social distance.
• All state park local field offices.
The Oregon State Parks website provided the following Q&A information on the extended closure:
What? Why? Isn't this an overreaction?
This is the hardest thing we've ever had to do. We'd hoped people would protect themselves, and more importantly, others by limiting their travel just to short trips to places with space. That didn't happen, and we understand why: people need to get out, and they need a little nature time to make this whole thing bearable.
But you're more important to us than our mission. Our local neighbors near each park — many of them small and rural — need our support and understanding. They and their health care systems (and grocery stores) don't need a few thousand extra people on their doorstep.
So now what do I do? Sit around for a couple of months?
Go out if it's important. Take a walk around your neighborhood where it's easier to avoid clumping up if that's what you need. Please do not travel to any popular recreation hotspot. You might think, "Well, if everyone else stays home, that means I can go." This works only if we all do our part.
What about beaches?
This decision doesn’t currently affect the entire ocean shore, but it does close all state park-managed parking lots and beach accesses. Cities, counties, federal land managers, and businesses who manage accesses may follow suit. For example, the ocean shores within the north and south boundaries of the city of Seaside are closed. If you visit a beach, you may be approached by law enforcement to remind you of the Governor's order to limit travel and maintain social distance from people not in your family.
We have the authority to close the beach temporarily for health reasons. If people don’t get the message that clumping up and overwhelming local areas is a bad idea, we’ll have to revisit the decision to leave all beaches open.
Cities and counties can also request beaches closed within their boundaries with the state's Office of Emergency Management. We will honor requests approved by the OEM. Local law enforcement is primarily responsible for enforcing the closure. Such closures apply to all visitors, including locals and travelers. Please check before you go.
What about boat launches?
All boat launches inside state parks are closed. If you take in from a launch outside the state park, please be advised that your take-out point inside a state park will not be accessible.
Site fees will be refunded for any canceled reservation through and including May 25, 2020. If your reservation is for after that date, we are not refunding those reservations at this time and standard cancellation and refund policies apply.
Why can't I make a new reservation?
Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 restrictions and the expense of processing cancellations, Oregon State Parks is temporarily suspending all new camping and day-use reservations. We will open up reservations again as soon as we have a better idea about opening dates. Existing reservations after May 25 are not affected at this time.
How about day-use parking permits?
We’ll automatically add time to all 12- and 24-month day-use parking permits after we resume normal operations.
Why not let some people camp, but send others home?
You mean, allow RVs, but only if they are self-contained and people promise to stay inside them? Or close big parks, but not small ones? Or close more popular sites but not more rural ones? The only thing harder than closing an entire park system is closing it to some, but not others.
We understand that some people rely on public camping and routinely move from place to place. However, this decision is also about reducing the strain on rural communities. We encourage you to find a place to stay closer to an area that is better equipped to handle this health emergency.
Half-measures won’t do, so this closure is system-wide.
Can I get my tax dollars back since you are not operating?
Oregon State Parks does not operate with any general fund tax dollars. Park operations are funded through three main sources: Lottery revenue, user fees, and a portion of RV registration proceeds.
Are RV dump stations staying open?
When we close a park, we close the entire park, including dump stations. Commercial providers may still be open.
What’s the problem with a walk on a trail?
A single person walking on a trail is fine. There are a few million people in the west who are thinking the same thing, and the next thing you know, people are parking alongside roads to get into a park. That’s bad for you, it harms other people, and it puts stress on local businesses and health care systems.
What are the rangers doing?
Ranger work varies from park to park. Where we can, we are focusing on deferred maintenance projects, such as trail clean up, natural resource restoration, removing hazardous trees, fixing winter storm damage, repairs to water and electrical systems, crack sealing and painting, just to name a few.
For more information, the Oregon State Parks Information Line remains open at 800-551-6949, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.